Despite the age-old claim that we should drink eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy, in recent years scientists and health officials have pointed out that this isn’t exactly the case.
Depending on a number of factors including your gender and level of exercise, different people can be just as healthy drinking more or less than eight glasses every day.
Plus, the water doesn’t have to be pure water: drinks like coffee, energy drinks and even soda can contribute to your daily water intake.
So how much good can water really do? I decided to find out by drinking nothing but water for a week. I was curious, as I’m not the best at keeping myself hydrated.
Some of my vices include coffee, and most powerfully: Diet Coke. I kept everything else the same—my diet and moderate level of exercise. Here’s what happened.
1. I didn’t like it.
For the first few days, all I could think about was the sweet rush of caffeine and dopamine that would come with a cool sip of Diet Coke. To me, water doesn’t just taste like nothing. It tastes bland and borderline unappealing. I learned very quickly that avoiding all other drinks was not for the faint of heart.
2. I ate less.
I come from an Italian upbringing, and thus consider myself relatively good at eating. I can pack in three squares a day no problem, usually plus a fourth made up of snacks between meals. But once I started drinking only water, I noticed that I was getting full more quickly and snacking less between meals. This can be a good or bad thing depending on what you eat. For me, I was just happy not to have to buy as many groceries.
3. I slept more.
Not only did I go to bed earlier, but I slept better. I woke up—sometimes even without the use of an alarm (a freakishly rare occurrence for me)—feeling more alert, refreshed and ready to start the day. Granted, I may have just been more tired because of the caffeine withdrawal, but it was a welcome surprise nonetheless.
4. I ran farther.
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is go for a run. It’s never an easy task. But once I started drinking more water, I was able to run more than I usually am. I wasn’t as tired and I even felt better after my runs, especially after a long drink of water.
5. I got used to it.
By the end of the week, though I still wouldn’t have turned down a Diet Coke, I didn’t mind the taste of water so much. It was refreshing after a long run or some time spent in the hot sun.
At the end of the day, there are frankly few disadvantages to drinking nothing but water. But the advantages can be achieved without such draconian tactics.
Just about everything we drink is mostly water. A cup of coffee in the morning, a juice, or the occasional glass of wine with dinner won’t spell the death of your progress.
Will I supplement my diet with more water—and maybe cut out some of those sodas—after this experiment? Yes. Will I ever drink a Diet Coke again? Of course I will.